"We don't like pretty," said François Nars, laughing a bit. The makeup artist and founder of Nars Cosmetics was backstage at Marc Jacobs on Thursday afternoon, explaining to a football team-sized huddle of beauty reporters the grungy look he had created for the designer's spring 2016 runway show.
The fact is, it's hard to make 18-year-old models with naturally flawless skin look bad, but the hair and makeup certainly weren't polished. Clumps of mascara clung to lashes as though they had been piling up for days, and turquoise pigment (Nars's Solomon Islands Eye Paint) commingled with Vaseline and ran greasily into the creases of the eyelids. The girls, Nars explained, were meant to look sweaty and glamorously worn down, as though they'd been out all night. To underscore that point, the team added a little brown shadow underneath the eyes to deepen the models' dark circles.
"The girl should look interesting and beautiful," Nars said. "I treat them more like characters than like they came from a salon... Whatever makeup we do, we want the girls to look like the [it] had lived a little bit."
Mission accomplished. The hair team, led by Redken Global Creative Director Guido Palau, created a style that rivaled the faux-sweat on the models' faces. The concept was a grungy updo in a — technical term here — "smushed-in shape," accented by sparkly barrettes placed at random.
"We're giving it the look of a haircut rather than a hairdo," said Palau's first assistant, Sandy Hullett. While that seems like something of an enigmatic explanation, it feels intuitively accurate. There was something of the '40s in the way the hair swept across the forehead, but the overall form of the thing was impossible to discern.
To round out the glamour quotient of the look — and to match the red carpet that had been unfurled down the sidewalk outside the Ziegfeld Theater, where the show would take place — nail artist Jin Soon Choi gave the models a glittering scarlet manicure using Marc Jacobs's own polish in "Surrender Dorothy," a new shade for spring. The application there was a tall order: three layers of polish, followed by three layers of topcoat.
At the end of the day (or, rather, night), few people actually look as good as Jacobs's punkish revelers did backstage. But that's why fashion is a fantasy, right? And this was a pretty great one.